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Hotel Deals for Monterey Park
Baymont by Wyndham Monterey Park
CA, USA
May 20 - May 20, 2019
per night from
$ 849.15
$ 83.83

Sacramento, long thought of as a sleepy capital lacking the luster of Los Angeles or San Francisco, is emerging from the shadows in the Golden State.

RELATED: The best of California’sPacific Coast Highway

One thing there’s much fuss about these days is the food. Four years ago Mayor Kevin Johnson, the first homegrown and African American mayor, declared Sacramento the nation’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. Most of the food in Sacramento comes from within 25 miles of the city and much of the rest, within 150 miles. Here, farm fresh isn’t a fad, but a lifestyle. On weekends the place to be is the legendary “under the freeway” Central Farmers Market. It’s the largest California Certified Farmers Market in the state. You’ll pretty much see everybody there, including top chefs both local and from afar, snapping up some of the best fruits and veggies you’ll find anywhere.

Central Farmers Market | Flickr CC: Robert Couse-Baker

Central Farmers Market | Flickr CC: Robert Couse-Baker

Meanwhile, the Fourth Annual Farm-to-Fork Festival held in September on the city’s Capitol Mall featured more than 80 vendors of local food, wine, beer and exhibits from farms, ranches and other food and ag providers. More than 50,000 people filled their bellies at the free event that also featured live music, cooking shows, butchering competitions and other activities. The month-long Farm-to-Fork Celebration concludes with the Tower Bridge Dinner, where more than 700 feasted on the collaboration of the area’s chefs and farmers who put together an outrageous five-course meal. The 2017 festival will happen in September.

You shouldn’t be surprised then, at how great Sacramento’s restaurants are. If you close your eyes and chow down you could be fooled into thinking you’re in San Francisco. Menus contain words like fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable and artisan. Take, for example, Mulvaney’s B&L. The menu here rotates daily based on the offerings at local farms. Hand-crafted New American is the house specialty. Expect to be wowed when you see some of biggest, freshest looking chunks of salmon or pig roasting on a giant grill, where you can eat surrounded by a lovely garden.

For brunch, eat at Grange Restaurant & Bar. The smoked chicken hash with bacon, peppers, sweet potatoes, spring onions, farm eggs and chipotle hollandaise is unforgettable. The list of great places to eat is long and also includes Ella’s, Empress, Frank Fat’s, Zocalo, Magpie, Mother and many more.

Low Brau | Photo courtesy of @rnjewels

Low Brau | Photo courtesy of @rnjewels

You’ll definitely want to burn off all this great food by walking neighborhoods like Midtown, where hipsters hang at restaurants, coffee shops, bars and indie boutiques. Every Saturday, a smaller, more chill farmers’ market happens where folks enjoy the sunshine on the patio of Low Brau and other restaurants and bars, many with their pooches politely seated nearby. Stop by the Kennedy Gallery where local talent is on display or bringa bottle of wine or beer, and paint your masterpiece at the Painted Cork.

Crocker Art Museum

Crocker Art Museum | Flickr CC: Nathan Hughes Hamilton

For real art, a visit to the Crocker Art Museum is a must. The collection is impressive—Californian and American, European, Asian, African and Oceanic art, and international ceramics, along with 1,500 master drawings. The Crocker Museum also hosts a classical concert series July through December.

Dive Bar | Photo courtesy of @divebarsacramento

Dive Bar | Photo courtesy of @divebarsacramento

Speaking of music, Sacramento doesn’t close down at dark. Don’t be surprised to find lines outside bars and clubs. Dive Bar seems to be the spot and worth checking out even if you’re not a barfly. The huge aquarium above the bar is cool, especially if you get to glimpse the mermaids who swim in the tank, along with the fish. Hint: Rumor has it they never show before midnight.

Locals are especially pumped, though, about the new Golden 1 Center, the state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex, that is a big piece of downtown’s revitalization. Superstar artist Jeff Koons recently unveiled his towering sculpture at the entrance of the Center, which is the new home of hoopsters the Sacramento Kings. Word is that the arena is the most technically advanced and sustainable in the country. With a farm-to-fork menu, the fans will have some of the best stadium eats anywhere. Executive Chef Michael Tuohy plans to take arena food to a new level.

Old Sacramento | Flickr CC: Jack Snell

Old Sacramento | Flickr CC: Jack Snell

If you have time for a history lesson, make your way to Old Sacramento, where you can visit several museums, including the railroad, Wells Fargo andautomobile museums. The Old Sacramento Underground Tour offers a peak into the past when the streets were raised in the 1860s and 1870s to protect the city from flooding. There are also boutiques, art, antiques, collectibles, carriage rides, Hornblower cruises, train rides, and restaurants and bars.

As for accommodations, you have a range of bed and breakfasts, big hotels like the Embassy Suites Sacramento Riverfront Promenade, Hyatt Regency and Four Points by Sheraton, plus the historic Citizen Hotel. When you head back home, no doubt you’ll think about how Sacramento is an interesting city, a comfortable mix of lifers and those who’ve flocked to the city for its affordability and livability, growing—but not too big, not too small—and yes, a great place for grub.

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Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl is a writer and editor, specializing in travel, personal finance, business and career topics. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, Money, DailyFinance.com, Forbes.com, ABCNews.com, Upscale Magazine, Essence, Black Enterprise and others.

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